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Trevor Anderies Quintet at Fresh Santa Fe

Dave Wayne By

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Trevor Anderies Quintet
Fresh Santa Fe
New Music Series
Santa Fe, NM
September 3, 2016

To be perfectly honest, most of the bands that come to Santa Fe, NM are playing fill-in gigs between dates in Albuquerque (or Phoenix) and Denver. And that's okay because it just makes sense, logistically. The town is exceptionally pleasant, though for most jazz groups there's not much choice in terms of venues. There are, perhaps 2 or 3 small, music-only venues. Otherwise, it's a choice between a door gig at a bar or a house concert. Fresh Santa Fe, a small art gallery housed in a very unassuming locale deep in the town's so-called Warehouse District, is bidding to become a go-to venue when it comes to jazz and new music. Recent performances in the space have included saxophonists Andrew Lamb and Chris Jonas, percussionist Rakalam Bob Moses, and the phenomenal Atlanta-based new music ensemble Faun and a Pan Flute. It doesn't hurt that Fresh Santa Fe is within walking distance of two other up-and-coming small venues: Radical Abacus (which specializes in electronic and avant-garde music) and Zephyr (whose bookings are dominated by folk and indie rock artists). Close by is Santa Fe's most important new attraction, Meow Wolf: a fascinating and unusual theme park of sorts housed in a former bowling alley. Meow Wolf also presents nationally-touring acts of all types.

Trevor Anderies had visited the town several years back with the band Slumgum, an all-star quartet of some of Los Angeles' most important young jazz players; Jon Armstrong, Rory Cowal and David Tranchina. This tour was with his own quintet which features his wife—vocalist Alina Roitstein—and the musically omnivorous supporting crew of guitarist Gregory Uhlmann, bassist Emilio Terranova, and multi-reed artist Andrew Conrad. Presenting material from their most recent album, Promise of a Tree (Orenda Records, 2015), their live performance was crisp, engaging, and varied.

The quintet's music is a well-integrated synthesis of modern jazz, indie rock, and older blues-and folk-based forms. Of all the band members, Anderies himself has had to modify his approach most radically in order to get these tunes across. If you listen to Slumgum, or his debut album Shades of Truth (Nine Winds Records, 2012), Anderies is the quintessential young gun: lots of blazing fills all over the kit, original compositions replete with odd or compound time signatures and free improvisational passages. In this group, Anderies dials the fills way back and cedes the spotlight to vocalist Roitstein whose voice, while not a jazz voice per se, is nothing short of remarkable. Roitstein sings effortlessly in a bell-clear, unaffected manner with unerring intonation and rhythmic sense. Her range reaches from a dusky alto to a clarion soprano and her sound is never less than beautiful. Anderies seems to have chosen Conrad and Uhlmann for their uncanny ability to provide Roitstein pitch-perfect accompaniment. Both are fine improvisers, but—in this context—their real strength seems to lie in their ability to surround Roitstein with a friendly and forgiving harmonic cushion while Anderies and Terranova push the music continually forward.

The set at Fresh Santa Fe came right off of Promise of a Tree, and even followed the track sequence on the album itself. Interspersed with brief back-stories and band introductions, the band's presentation was sincere, earnest and welcoming; a contrast with the venue's rather stark warehouse-like environs. Anderies' music was no less warm, even at its most edgy (e.g., the deceptively-titled "Lullaby," which is actually an intense out-jazz foray). He's one of those rare composers who has successfully integrated modern jazz and indie rock in a convincing way, as on "The Acorn" and "The Search for a New Land." Working through some issues with volume balance and guitar amplification, the band hit their stride on their third piece, "Aren't You So Lovely," a spooky minor-key ballad with wordless vocals. From there, the band really took off, captivating the small audience. The centerpiece of their set was an interpretation of "Harlem Nocturne" which was taken to some truly new and unusual places. The band's final piece, a heart-wrenching version of the traditional ballad "Shenandoah," nearly had everyone in tears.

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